Tuesday 30 June 2009

Interview at A Blog Around the Clock

Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock is conducting a series of interviews about the attendees of last January's Science Online '09 unconference.

You can see my interview here, and the rest in the series by clicking here.
What do I want to be when I grow up? It even includes a picture of me not moving and smiling at the same time. The series promises to cover a diverse group of bloggers to be sure.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.

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Monday 29 June 2009

Art Monday: guest-post by Jacqueline Dillard

This week, I've invited scientific illustrator and artist Jacqueline Dillard to do a guest post. I'm excited Jacqueline has taken me up on the offer, as she has a fascinating portfolio. This marks the first guest post here on The Flying Trilobite.
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My name is Jacqueline and I will be filling in for Glendon today. I don’t have quite the blogging experience that he does, so I fear that my entry may look a little more like a short essay than anything else. Glendon advised me to just write a little bit about a few of my drawings, like my scientific illustrations or some of my personal art pieces, which got me thinking about the differences between science illustration and science art. I’m sure this is a topic near and dear to both of our hearts, so I figured it would make a fine subject for my post.

I believe the main disparity that can be drawn between science illustration and science art is that science illustration is used to show the importance of art to scientists while science art is used to show the importance of science to artists. An illustration is often purely descriptive and completely devoid of any artistic freedom (lest you summon the wrath of the fussy researcher you’re working for!), yet it still maintains the ability to impress the patron. Unfortunately, most researchers don’t have a scrap of artistic talent (there are of course exceptions to the rule; see Jonathan Kingdon and Ernst Haeckel for a few great examples) so when they are confronted with an image of, say a full reconstruction of an organism they only knew from fossilized bones, it can be quite a moving experience. When I completed my skeletal illustration of the whale-ancestor-like artiodactyl, Indohyus, everyone in the lab was shocked to see that its proportions were much more whale-like than was expected. The astonishment experienced by these paleontologists may be comparable to the wonder felt by artists (or anyone else for that matter) when they are presented with drawings that elucidate the hidden aesthetics of the natural world. With a little artistic expression and a highly magnified reference photo, something as simple as a paper wasp can become a beautiful and seemingly alien creature. There’s nothing quite as great as hearing other artists rave about the shapes, textures and colors used in a drawing, not knowing that it wasn’t the artist’s interpretation, but rather millions of years of evolution (wonderfully color coordinated evolution at that) that gave us the subject matter for these compositions.

Well, that’s all I have, hopefully I haven’t disappointed all the dedicated Flying Trilobite fans out there!

-Jacqueline Dillard
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Original artwork in this post on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow Jacqueline Dillard.

Jacqueline's gallery can be seen here.

Monday 22 June 2009

Art Monday: WWI pterosaur sketchy sketches

The last few weeks of Art Mondays have mainly been sketches and unfinished drawings. This week is a bit more of the same. I fins that sometimes, inspiration for new and varied pieces falls into my mind in a torrent, and I struggle with my pencil to keep up.

Perhaps it's the season. I walk to my day-job, about 40 minutes through a beautiful park, past galleries and boutique clothing stores in one of the hippest areas in Toronto. Trees are full, the air is warm and we haven't had a smog day yet. It's a good time for thinking.

Next week, Art Evolved is launching it's third gallery of prehistoric art, and the theme is pterosaurs. There's been a lot of debate about physiology flying back and forth on Art Evolved. Unsure of my exact position in scientific illustration, I p
ondered whether to go for a full-on restoration illustration, or something unusual and fantastic like my first two entries.

It's a rare thing, when the whole idea appears before your mind's eye, full-blown, down to the brush strokes. This happened here.

A little research, and I am falling in love with the idea. I plan to keep
it loose, and go for a more sketchy painting style in this one.

In brief, I wanted pterosaurs, specifically Quetzalcoatlus northropi fighting alongside the RAF against the Red Baron. I'm not a World War 1 history buff by any stretch, though lately I've been reading little bits. I came across the name of Major Billy Barker on Wikipedia, and knew I had the right hook to the painting. Barker was Canada's own flying ace, with 50 confirmed aerial kills, and he pioneered the leader-wingman strategy for pilots. A real character.

And the best part is, the pterosaur gallery is launching on July 1st; Canada Day. Sweet.

I used to hesitate to put sketches like this online. They contain a lot of useful information for me to use, but they are by no means drawings in their own right; and that's an important distinction. A sketch is a rough idea, an analogue to a hypothesis in science. The drawing is the capital-T Theory, fleshed out and a piece of art in it's own right, paint not necessary.

Hmm. This post is like my art lately. Wandering all over the place. Ok. Time to get back to the aerial battle and oil paints.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Thursday 18 June 2009

I'm a student again.

I am officially returning to York University to complete my Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in September.

In 1997, my fourth year of my undergrad, life had some upheaval. A bad break-up. My parents, split since I was 8 years old, decided to finally divorce and sell the house, leaving me paying rent. YorkU had one of its now-infamous strikes, which lasted about seven weeks and went to the end of the school year. I remember after classes were over, we were asked to "meet the professors" in the common area outside. 40 000 students milling about looking for hundreds of professors in a rabble.

One course teacher was on loan from another institution, and a number of us couldn't find her. A huge portion of our mark rested on the final studio assignment. We dropped the course, not knowing what else to do. I left, missing a 3rd year studio course.

I tried to go back the following fall and take a computer painting class, but the gruel of paying my bills, rent and student loans was killing me, and I dropped it. I spent months eating plain pasta with soy sauce and leftover low-fat muffins from my coffee shop job. I biked over an hour to get to that job, and was built like a rock. My family never had much money, and the idea of finishing my degree drifted away.

I'm proud of some of my choices. I've helped my wife get through her education and she is now a certified teacher with a specialty working with children with special needs, mainly in the autism spectrum. I have a good day-job at a company that treats people well, and I'm proud of my work there.

But the unfinished degree has always rankled. Like part of my life has been on hold. And I always enjoyed school, got good marks and felt like I applied much of what I learned. Studio courses at York require such a high time commitment you may only take 2 each school year. Hopefully, in one more calendar year, I will have my BFA and be annoying and put it after my name everywhere. "The Flying GlendonMellowBFA Trilobite Blog".

I enrolled about 30 minutes ago. I'm scheduled for a half course in Drawing and Narrative, and another in Painting 2-d & 3-d. Already a weight is cast off my shoulders.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite
Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

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Wednesday 17 June 2009

A graffiti prezzie!

Artist and nature illustrator Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen who blogs at Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding gave me this via Facebook's graffiti application for my birthday earlier this month:Hee! Wait - what's in that luggage? Not clothes...?

You can find Carel's book of astounding art here. Check out that juicy hippo maw!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Except this piece above, this art came from a Master to whom I bow my head.

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Tuesday 16 June 2009

Art Monday: TriloBot, transform!

A glimpse of my Transformers fan concept: TriloBot.

It's an Autobot.

A ways to go yet, I may try to paint this one completely digitall
y...possibly alter the pose to look more like swimming. TriloBot is holding some coral in his hand. He was an analogue to a marine biologist back on Cybertron, and now spends his time on Earth helping guard the oceans from the depredations of the Decepticons and overfishing.

Perhaps I'll work up an old "techspec" too when I finish the piece.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Transformers licence belongs to Hasbro Inc. though; this is purely meant a s a fan fun exercise.

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Monday 8 June 2009

A trip down portfolio lane...

The answer to "where am I going to put all these drawings?!" gets easier over time. Portfolios come in all types, and I'm loving the slick new one my pixie-wife picked up for my birthday.

Here's an example of some of my early ones.The wooden one is an heirloom from my paternal grandmother, whom I never met. These days I store my final pencil drawings in it to keep them nice and flat. The one with the painted image on the side I've had since early high school. When I applied for university, half of acceptance was based on marks, the other half, your portfolio. I suffered from horrible portfolio envy that day. I can remember a glamorous blonde and fast talkin' pushy guy each coming into the waiting room with massive paintings, friends helping carry them in and coordinate around corners. And me in the corner with my wee portfolio.

Me and the blonde got in, so whatevs.

Years later, my wife picked up this spectacular deep red plexi and steel portfolio by Pina Zangaro.
I love how whatever image is inside becomes saturated with red hues, and dark paintings hint to the eye at things underneath. Mysterious and outstanding at once. I still carry this for face to face with people. I consider it a win if people comment on the art and not the flashy portfolio.

Now, I've entered a new age. Most of my technology is hand-me-down, and I'm grateful for it, --erm, quirks and all. The new Wacom Intuos 3 tablet is pretty awesome. At home, we're trying to upgrade our technology this year, not cutting edge, but at least a step up.

Enter the new portfolio: an iPod Touch.
Okay, maybe I'm out of touch, (ha! oh...) but it had never occurred to me to use an iPod or pda as a portfolio. Earlier this year, I purchased an iPod Nano for my wife, and after it self-loaded her hundreds of family photos on it, and she saw how little space it used, her idea was sparked.

Currently I have over 80 images loaded up. I can pinch-zoom, flick through them in seconds with no loading times...this is like a dream. Years ago I was sketching in a coffee shop, and a man asked for my card. I didn't have one back then, and he said, "oh well" and left. I always have one now. And now, I could go further: show off some of my best pieces, my completed contracts and zoom in on details. I'm hoping this will help advance my career in those unexpected moments.

I added the Brushes app (by Steve Sprang) and it's pretty cool. If I produce anything worthy, be sure I'll post it. I love how I can import my drawings, and paint with them almost like using a junior tablet! Transparencies and everything. Suh-weet. There are galleries of this type of sketchy little art (here at Wired, and a blog called Touch Art). I've read some criticisms of this type of drawing ("looks like fingerpainting") but I'm taking that as a challenge to produce something cool.

Oh and the iPod Touch plays music too, or something.

Flick, flick, flick...

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

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Art Monday: Goals

There are goals I would like to achieve in my artistic and illustration career.

-->Childrens' books fascinate me. Their rhythm, the information good ones impart through a combination of words and images. I would love to illustrate a children's book about evolution by natural selection. Perhaps with aliens or a made-up creature, or some highly unusual organism like a sea cucumber.

-->Filling up a whole bookshelf with magazines and books containing at least one illustration by me remains a goal. This year, I'm off to a pretty good start with Secular Nation, Open Laboratory 2008 and La Mente di Darwin.

-->Having a book of illustrations and a story given the
spotlight and altering my career the way three of my artsy-heroes have remains an end-goal of mine. James Gurney's Dinotopia series, and Wayne Barlowe's radical direction change in his Barlowe's Inferno have my mind ticking all the time, developing a narrative and waiting for the day I am able to give it a shot.

-->I want to ill
ustrate a comic book cover. Cloak & Dagger or Man-Thing. And do some album art for an electro- or industrial-goth band.

-->Continuing to make strides in online art, such as the blog banners I've done for Shelley Batts & Steve Higgins, Dale McGowan and Dan Rhoads -- it's a niche I didn't imagine five years ago. Wouldn't a collection of blog banners be a great coffee table book?

-->Making enough income from my art that I could produce more. That's a goal. As with most artists, the work is fantastic and I love to get it; it drives me forward. No, no, I'm understating it. I hunger for that, I'm desperate for that, it vexes me each day. I have a good day-job. But I want painting & being creative & failing & overcoming & mark-making & the astonishment of a great image (I created that?). I need to go to there.

-->Doing a colloborative project on a larger scale, a movie, a video game, a group book. Yeah.

-->Auction off an original piece and make a ton of money to give to The Beagle Project.

-->A sit-down portrait with a scientist whose writing I admire. Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Richard Fortey- there's so many, and I have sketches for some.

I have a lot of work to do. Blogging has brought me closer to many of these goals already. It's an amazing time we live in, when images can hurtle around the world so quickly. I live in Toronto Canada, and have been published in Italy and commissioned in Cyprus, as well as by my neighbours to the South. That's a kind of awesome.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Sunday 7 June 2009

Colouring Book Submission!

Holy Monkey!

I received an extra-lovely surprise the other day - a completed colouring book page from the few I put up back in April! Arrived on my birthday actually - awesome!!!
This is from Montana, by young (3) Patrick Barton, son of blogger Michael Barton, who keeps everyone afloat on all things Darwin at The Dispersal of Darwin. Michael is looking for submissions about the history of science for the next Giant's Shoulder's blog carnival! More info here.

In Patrick's interpretation of Darwin Took Steps, I must say in particular I like the attention paid to the out-of-place staircase, and to Charles' buttons. On the right-hand side, is that a sketch of the tree of life I see? Great artwork, Patrick!

Thanks for sending this, guys!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Except for this lovely coloured book page. I can't claim credit for that. Copyright to the Bartons.
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Saturday 6 June 2009

Drawing Day!

It's Drawing Day! The goal is to remember how much fun it is to create and view drawings, and to upload a million online in one day!

Today I have two new pieces I'm working on, a recent sketch and one drawing from about a dozen years ago. Click to enlarge. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about each one: it's Drawing Day. Enjoy!
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My self-portrait I began this week. Still not done. Do I look intense or angry? A recent drawing for a piece I'm painting on a wood panel. It's a diatom fairy. A sketch for the Introducing Sara Chasm, as seen in the inaugural ART Evolved gallery on ceratopsians. Hmm. Lately I seem to have developed Derek Zoolander's problem of turning left. Not so in this old piece: one of the three fates, from a project on narrative I did while in university.
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Great stuff out there, take the next few days to look around on deviantArt, Redbubble, and more through the Drawing Day site. With so many artists uploading, I'm sure even the strangest subjects are out there.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***
Created for Drawing Day - www.drawingday.org

Friday 5 June 2009

In the works: self-portrait for Drawing Day

Tomorrow is the second annual Drawing Day, as I discovered a recently. The goal is to see over 1 million drawings be uploaded onto the intertubes to remind people of the fun/magic/horror/whymightymonkeywhy of making marks.

I plan on putting up some pieces that have been sitting around the ol' sketchbooks.

Yesterday I made it a mission to do a self-portrait, and I am almost complete. A perfectly vain and pompous project for my birthday. It is only intended to be in pencil, but looking at it, I think I could make use of my tablet and colourize this one down the road. I downloaded Gimp a while back, the free imaging program, and maybe this would be a worthy experiment.

That black stuff behind the head? Not sure what that is? One friend suggested it's my ego.

Hm. It's missing my freckles. Drawing should be completed tomorrow for Drawing Day!
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***
Created for Drawing Day - www.drawingday.org

Tuesday 2 June 2009

La Mente di Darwin has launched!

This certainly is a busy year for Charles Darwin. Man gets around.

My Darwin Took Steps image has been busy as well. Shaking with excitement, I went to the post office to pick up a package this weekend: La Mente di Darwin is here!

A few months ago I was contacted by science-philosopher-now-author Andrea Parravicini about using Darwin Took Steps on the cover of his first book, La Mente di Darwin. Negotiations with Negretto Editore went smoothly, despite the image having appeared on two other publications this year, Open Laboratory 2008 and Secular Nation magazine. Advice: always be upfront with this type of thing with all parties.

Thank you to Andrea Parravicini! I wish I knew Italian.

The book has launched and is available for sale here. From what Andrea has told me, it generated some good buzz at the Fiera Internazionale del Libro in Torino. Cheers!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

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Andrea Parravicini also signed my copy, which is awesome.

New poll: Flying Trilobite load times

Does this blog take too much time to load?

I've worried about this since its inception, and tried loading it on multiple computers. Usually I'm okay with it, but then again I'm the author.

Have your say in my sidebar poll, or in the comments below!

Currently I have it set-up to show the last 10 posts. I've been considering jettisoning more of my sidebar gadgets & widgets as well. (Tag cloud? Does anyone even look at those any more?) Typically I also try to save my images at a resolution that maintains a compromise between image quality and load times.

Anyway I'm curious, and the poll is anonymous. Thanks!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Monday 1 June 2009

Art Monday: Palettes

After realizing a visitor or two from the rodent family had moved into my studio space this weekend, I spent my painting time last night instead gutting my studio. Removing all the furniture, cleaning up, tossing things and pouring delightful amounts of cleanser on the hardwood floor.

My studio is actually a really large closet off the living room. Our nephew stays over once a week, and when he was small we gave up the studio-office so he could have a bedroom away from my potentially harmful paint supplies and so we could load it with Star Wars toys. My wife and I live in a wickedly ancient apartment building with many quirks in the architecture; pests are not common, thankfully.

Likely I will have more artwork up later in the week. For now, enjoy these palettes. I usually use container lids, as you can see, and these ones are waiting to be disposed of properly. Can you spot the two for Migrations? The one with a touch of blue for Introducing Sara Chasm?

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

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